The next time you need gas, take a few minutes to review the choices at your disposal. Whether you get gas at the local convenience store or a standalone service center, you will see a variety of fuel grades when you pull up to the pump.
Each of those grades of gas comes with its own price tag, and if you choose the wrong one, you could end up wasting money. The price of it is high enough already, and the last thing you want to do is spend more money than you need to.
The Origins of Unleaded Fuel
You will find a lot of things at your local gas station, but one thing you will not find is lead. In decades past, lead used to be an integral part of fuel formulations, but the harmful health effects of the heavy metal were eventually uncovered.
As a result, lead was quickly phased out of gasoline formulations, leaving many drivers struggling with knocking and other symptoms. Over time, however, vehicles were designed to run on unleaded fuel, and these days only a tiny number of antique and classic cars truly need lead to run well. Unless you own one of these older vehicles, you do not have to worry about the lack of lead in the gas you buy.
Low Test, Midrange or High Test – Which is Best for Your Car?
You do not need lead, but what kind of gas do you need? There are three basic choices – low test, which is typically 87 octane, midrange gas, which is generally 89 octane, and high test, which boosts an octane rating of 93.
So which type of gas is best for your car? It depends. You should check your owner's manual for information about the type of gas you should buy, but you can also do some experimentation on your own. If you have been buying high test gas, for instance, try the midrange or low test instead. If your vehicle still runs fine, you can probably save the extra cash and buy the cheaper grade from now on.
What About Ethanol?
These days many gasoline formulations include ethanol, an additive made from corn. This formulation is designed to provide both economic and environmental benefits, but could it harm your engine?
Again, it depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. If you drive an older vehicle, it may not be designed to accommodate fuel with ethanol as an additive. For newer vehicles, however, the typical 10% ethanol formulation should not be a problem, so you will not have to drive out of your way to find ethanol-free gas. Now that you know what those grades mean, you can make a choice based on your vehicle and your budget.
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